Problem and inspiration
The outbreak of Covid 19 only made it clear for us the importance of mental health. As the situation deteriorated and we saw friends and family feeling depressed, anxious and severe loneliness, we felt the need to try and make any steps possible to ease those feelings. According to local official data in my country in 2016 the number of lives taken was 85, while the number of suicides was 235. In the outbreak of Covid 19 the majority of citizens around the world are being faced with a new reality: a reality where the freedom of movement is being highly limited. Daily routines for us, such as going to work, having coffee or meeting with friends, are now strictly forbidden. As governments focus their efforts on saving people’s lives, there seems to be a blind eye on the mental health issues related to this situation. Depression, stress, anxiety and suicidal thoughts are only a few of the mental health problems citizens might develop during these times, not to mention people who have already been suffering from these illnesses in the past. In isolation, these problems grow and without the option to meet with family and friends for support, citizens are facing a severe threat to their well being. In the global view, MindDive aims to lower the conventional help seeking ways in the light of new technologies, while keeping the human touch.
Main reasons for untreated mental health disorders
-General stigma around people with these disorders -General belief that mental disorders don’t need the same attention as health disorders do, since health issues are more life threatening -Difficulty in finding psychiatrist/psychologist (a young person needs to ask at least 7 people to find a private one) -Disproportion between the amount of people and psychiatrists (100’000 people to 1 doctor) -Since the major causes for MHD vary amongst genetic disorders, lifestyle, usage of drugs and daily stress, many people are embarrassed to uncover these kind of information about them and have lack of trust in the anonymity they will receive. -Lack of awareness about mental health issues: a lot of people believe that they might be sick even with mild symptoms or just daily struggles, and if they do seek help, the doctors are in such low human capabilities, that will give medication right away.
What it does
MindDive is thought to be a Mental Health Platform, which includes a website, an APP and a direct hotline. Through building a simple APP, we aim to make it accessible for anyone in need. The main page of the APP separates individuals based on their need and preferred channel of communication. This solution will bring a steady hand to people who are facing severe loneliness and depression in these difficult times. For those who don’t have the opportunity to have this APP or don’t know how to use it, the APP will be connected to a website where people can also reach out, or a specific number where people can call free of charge. The first page of the APP gives the option for individuals to register their phone number and their name or nickname, thus giving anonymity to anyone who feels uncomfortable sharing their information.
The second page, has three options: Could you talk to me? , Women’s support and The Eye. If you choose the first options, then you get directed to another page, which gives you the options such as “Text me”, where you can reach the specialist via WhatsApp, Viber or Facebook; “Call me” where you will get a call from ta specialist if dealing with an immediate need and “Book a specialist”, for those who need psychological evaluation. In the last option, people can choose any of the licensed psychologists that are part of this project and then rate them based on their experience.
Women’s support is a channel dedicated only to women who have undergone mental, emotional of physical abuse, before or during the quarantine. This options was meant to create a special support for women during these difficult times, considering the numbers of reports from women regarding abuse have increased during the prolonged quarantine. The professionals at the other side of this line will be trained to be in touch with the police, in case the feedback they are taking is life threatening.
The Eye is meant to be a safe space for anyone that feels more comfortable sharing their burden with others like them. Once someone chooses to participate, they can decide to register for the scheduled virtual meetings, hosted by specialist, on how to deal with specific problems such as “Dealing with depression caused from distancing”, “How to deal with a panic attack”, etc. What differentiates this services from the others, is that it can give support for emotional needs and momentary requests, thus ensuring fast and effective solutions. We are aware that during these difficult times, a lot of people do not have the time or abilities to schedule meetings, so we want everyone to get help as soon as possible
How I built it
Our team was gathered in a rush during the Hackathon: Hack the Crisis in Albania and we only had 48 hours to develop the idea, gather the team and create a prototype app. We continued bringing new features and opportunities in the APP during this Hackathon.
Present and future
On the current circumstances, this initiative will make people feel better in these hard times and will decrease the chances of being affected from an even more dangerous threat, such as severe mental health problems. It is known that traumas that evolve from times like this can last a lifetime and cause several types of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and burnout, and with this innovation we seek to decrease the chances of this happening. We think this service should be offered free of charge for now and with volunteers. On a bigger scale, we think this platform should continue working even after the Covid 19 situation, since mental health is an everyday struggle. In the future, we think this Platform should be monetized and we seek funding from companies that relate to this cause, solo investors, governmental bodies and NGO’s. We believe that Mental Health Platforms are a essential need in every society today, considering the amount of stress people, and especially young people, are dealing with. Considering the difficulties and problems that arise with trying to seek help, MindDive aims to become a innovative way that people can use to feel better. We think that such a platform will be successful because: -It will be easy to access -It will bring together the best minds regarding mental health issues -Anyone can reach it, even those that cannot find a psychologist physically -It will cost less than paying a psychologist, but bring the same results.
What we will be working on
After a very constructive conversation with our mentor Mr. Luis Graca, we are right now considering implementing three additional features on the APP.
- a RED button on Women's support, which will serve as a emergency alert and be connected to the police through our app. This option will also send the location of the woman/ person being abused, for the police to arrive there faster.
- a special feature for the specialists: as this app is mainly targeting people suffering mental health issues, we tent to forget about the people that are giving this service, who are also undergoing a lot of mental difficulties. This feature will be dedicated to them and will work in the way of webinars or group meetings for psychologists, to share their experiences and tips on how to deal better with the challenges they are facing.
- have the option of several languages on the APP, for anyone to be able to use.
Other benefits and impacts
-Increased number of people who receive support -Removed stigma from mental health issues through anonymity -Serve as a filter for people in need of support, mental health aid and those who have severe symptoms and need -medication or a doctor’s appointment -Creates a connection with medical facilities, where out professionals will send data to the doctors for those in need, removing long lines and bureaucracy at the doctor’s office. -Create a simple APP, easily accessible, along with a simple website and hotline number. -Create more jobs for psychologists, graduated ones or students who can offer support. -Creates a safe platform for women who are suffering abuse and for other reasons cannot call the police. -This platform can also be use to detect cases of abuse against women, even for those who do not call with this specific intention. -Increased awareness for mental health issues -Creates a chain of help, given by professionals through several stages
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
We were chosen among 10 top teams and received many praises from mentors and other groups of interest for the idea, the cause it supports, the development in such a short time and the motivation to keep it forward. We managed not only to focus on the innovative side, but also to form a strong collaboration with a group of licensed psychologists working in the state hospital. We reached over 100 likes in our Facebook page in less than two - three days, and people are already writing, wanting to learn more.
What we need
We are working for a Virtual Assistance company, so the next step would be presenting a pitch to the owner on the potential of them offering us their systems and servers to start the operation as soon as possible. We aim to raise awareness through social media channels, online marketing, email marketing, government channels, influencer channels, fliers, banners and networking with powerful people. We think it’s very important to spread the word as much as possible, since there might be other platforms like this one, but the fact that they are unknown for the majority of the public, makes this step vital, as mental health issues affect high numbers of the society. We expect from competitions like this one funding and opportunity to create network with people that can help us bring this project to the next step.